Table of contents:
- Who could be called a simple Russian and is the term "life under the tsar" legitimate?
- How much did housing cost, how manufacturers helped their workers, as well as taxes and food prices
- What the officials ate and what the workers and the military could not afford
- Consumer baskets before and after WWI
Today people know very well what a food basket is, an average wage, a standard of living, and so on. Surely, our ancestors also thought about this. How did they live? What could they buy with the money they earned, what was the price of the most common food products, how much did it cost to live in large cities? Read in the material what “life under the tsar” was like in Russia, and how the situation of ordinary people, military men and officials differed.
Who could be called a simple Russian and is the term "life under the tsar" legitimate?
In the 19th - early 20th centuries in Russia, the bulk of the population were rural residents, that is, peasants. As for their consumer basket, it contained food and clothing that people made themselves. The peasants did not care much about the market. The consumer basket of city officials, factory workers, and the military is a different matter.
By the way, the widespread expression "Life under the Tsar" can be attributed to the usual myths. In fact, if you compare the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the twentieth, the standard of living of workers will be very different. After the Morozov strike (1885), the workers began to live better. The country banned child labor, minimized night work, and wages gradually went up, and its growth continued after the 1905 revolution. But prices did not stand still, according to statistics for three years (1914 - 1917) they soared by 300%. Salaries also went up, but still some products acquired the status of a deficit. For example, sugar was sold only on ration cards.
How much did housing cost, how manufacturers helped their workers, as well as taxes and food prices
People spent a lot of money on housing. The era of mass low-cost housing had not yet arrived, and the existing ones were of high value. Manufacturers in large cities found a way out: since 1885, they began to allocate considerable funds for the construction and arrangement of housing for their workers. Thus, housing prices fell and the consumer basket improved. For example, according to statistics from 1908–1913, workers in cities such as St. Petersburg, Baku, Kiev and Bogorodsk spent not very large sums on housing, a maximum of 20 percent of their monthly wages.
At the same time, taxes in tsarist Russia were small: for the townspeople until 1914, they amounted to only 3 rubles per month. And the products didn’t require a lot of money. Vegetables, bread and milk in big cities were cheap.
The wages of workers depended on qualifications. For example, a laborer at the Petrograd Obukhov plant at the beginning of 1917 received 160 rubles, and more skilled workers could boast of monthly wages of up to 400 rubles. Can be compared over the years. In 1885, a man's food expenses accounted for up to 45 percent of his earnings, and in 1914 it was only 25 percent. Increased spending on clothing and footwear, home improvement, books, magazines and newspapers, theater visits, children's education, and public transport.
What the officials ate and what the workers and the military could not afford
How did the officials live? The Uglich Household Museum has a 1903 book of expenses kept by one official. His salary was 45 rubles a month. The apartment cost 5 rubles 50 kopecks. Spending on food was as follows: bread for 2 kopecks, a pot of milk - 6 kopecks, a bag of potatoes - 35 kopecks, a large bucket of cabbage - 25 kopecks, about a kilogram of sausage - 30 kopecks. As far as alcohol is concerned, a bottle of vodka sold for 38 kopecks, which can be compared to the waste of a city worker. His monthly salary (national average) ranged from 8 to 50 rubles. After the 1905 revolution, machinists and electricians received up to 100 rubles, while weavers and dyers were paid approximately 28 rubles.
Artisans of the highest rank had an income of about 63 rubles, which was more than that of blacksmiths, turners and locksmiths. The workers began to buy more gourmet products. If we talk about people of mental labor, then we can give a simple example: a gymnasium teacher, for example, received more than a highly qualified worker.
The military also lived in different ways, everything depended on the rank. The general's annual salary was approximately 8,000 rubles. The colonel has about 2800 rubles, the lieutenant has 1110, and the warrant officer has about 800 rubles. But the officers had to buy themselves expensive uniforms at their own expense.
Consumer baskets before and after WWI
The First World War did not have much of an impact on the consumer basket. There was enough food, only sugar was sold with coupons. But it should be noted that at the same time food prices went up and quadrupled in 3 years. However, salaries have also grown. For example: in 1914, the monthly salary of a worker at the St. Petersburg Putilov plant was 50 rubles, and at the beginning of 1917 at the St. Petersburg Obukhov plant, the worker already received about three hundred rubles, while his monthly budget, taking into account a family of three, was 169 rubles. Of this, 29 rubles were spent on housing, 100 rubles for food, 40 rubles for shoes and clothes.
Conclusions: if we talk about the pre-revolutionary consumer basket of workers, it is worth remembering some peculiarities. Minimum taxes, inexpensive agricultural products, and at the same time the direct dependence of costs on skill level had a large impact on the consumer basket. However, after 1907, the quality of this basket began to grow rapidly due to higher wages (by the way, this growth significantly outstripped rapid inflation) and the appearance of cheaper housing. Workers began to spend more on entertainment and organizing interesting leisure activities.